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> Coding Custom Programs, Every hacker's supposed to do it, so...
DragonOfId
post Dec 14 2008, 03:15 AM
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Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, but my searches were unproductive. Feel free to link me to another thread!

I want to design my character to be a serious hacker, and as the book suggests, she should be writing most of her own code. However, the extended test intervals suggested in the core book seem extreme. I assume I can only work on one program at a time, and even using a programming suite, it will take an inordinately long time. Let's go out on a limb and say I can roll 12 dice on a Software test, plus 6 for a really good suite. That's six successes average, so it will take me a year (two intervals) to write a rating-6 autosoft. Using a development environment to cut the time in half will cost 100 nuyen per programming day (is that every day of the 3-month interval?), and even if I shell out the bucks, I will finish up that program six months later and finally move on to the next one.

Given that my GM frequently runs campaigns that last less than a year "in the life," is there any point in trying to be a developer? If I'm missing some fundamental rule here, please be gentle -- I'm a new player. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/embarrassed.gif)

Jennifer
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TheOOB
post Dec 14 2008, 04:21 AM
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The fact is, there is no way to code all the programs you need to hack and keep them patched and actually have time to you know hack. By necessity you have to use other peoples code, you can't do it all yourself.

That said, very few hackers would every use a prog without making it their first, going through the code and changing a few things, a)to eliminate any weaknesses and/or back doors the original coder left in, and b)to make the prog cosistant with their persona's iconography. Many hackers will only program one or two programs, then use them to barter for the other programs they need.
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kzt
post Dec 14 2008, 04:35 AM
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It's more like you have discovered the sad truth: Nobody who writes the fluff in the books seems to actually understands the rules or what this implies about the world. If it looks like something written in the fluff seems totally insane to someone who has a basic understanding of the rules, it probably is just insane and should be ignored. Either that or you can just totally change the game mechanics to make the game work like the fluff....

It's also the case that the matrix rules are a morass, but that's harder to solve.
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TheOOB
post Dec 14 2008, 04:45 AM
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Considering that a program goes down 1 rating point every month, and it takes at least a week to make a patch for it, you can only keep four programs up to date, and thats assuming you spend a large portion of your time coding.

I guess you should take that Ring contact.
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Neraph
post Dec 14 2008, 04:54 AM
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Just be a Technomancer; it's easier.
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Cain
post Dec 14 2008, 05:40 AM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Dec 13 2008, 08:54 PM) *
Just be a Technomancer; it's easier.

But also massively weaker.
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TheOOB
post Dec 14 2008, 05:43 AM
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QUOTE (Cain @ Dec 14 2008, 12:40 AM) *
But also massively weaker.


I've found that if you make CFs reasonably prices (and have a static cost more like spells) technos start getting the respect they deserve.
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mrlost
post Dec 14 2008, 05:52 AM
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Maybe try getting your GM to adopt FrankTrollman's marvelous Matrix house rules
Other than that I don't know what to say, maybe focus on one aspect of hacking and program the best software for it (say Exploit) that you can.
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Dumori
post Dec 14 2008, 03:24 PM
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use cheap drones to code for you. Same number of dice and you can lazze around plus they can patch for you. 350 for a bust a move and not much if u buy a pirated pilot and software autosoft. Same with hacked codeing suites you only need to buy the progs once. And then buy more drones.
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Ryu
post Dec 14 2008, 06:43 PM
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No. Please don´t. If you want to use the "drones can have the profession autosoft(Software)" exploit, by all means take your stand and debate a "Software" autosoft useable by agents. (Note that coding this way is limited to rating 4 softs anyway.)
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Dumori
post Dec 14 2008, 06:57 PM
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QUOTE (Ryu @ Dec 14 2008, 06:43 PM) *
(Note that coding this way is limited to rating 4 softs anyway.)

I cant find this refranced in the BB or unwired.
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Ryu
post Dec 14 2008, 07:02 PM
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SR4, pg. 240 (German). The rating of a DIY program can´t be higher than the Software skill rating of the coder.
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Dumori
post Dec 14 2008, 07:09 PM
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not in my BBB. Nor is it in the errata but it wouldn't be i have the fifth printing.
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Ryu
post Dec 14 2008, 07:13 PM
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The not-yet-replaced German edition has some very substantial "additions", so I´m not surprised. Nothing to see here, please move on. (And thanks for the heads-up. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) )
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Dumori
post Dec 14 2008, 07:17 PM
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No problem though I would have to tell my GM that my drone army wasn't legal then (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif) he alows it due the fact my runners income is 6k a month (a street level/legal SINers campine)
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hobgoblin
post Dec 14 2008, 08:03 PM
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the problem i guess is that the "hackers write their own software" thing was in BBB, while the degradation rules that makes that impossible is in unwired.
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TheOOB
post Dec 14 2008, 08:28 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Dec 14 2008, 04:03 PM) *
the problem i guess is that the "hackers write their own software" thing was in BBB, while the degradation rules that makes that impossible is in unwired.


I find the degradation rules to be too harsh, especially since they don't even give a price for getting a black market patch.
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hobgoblin
post Dec 14 2008, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE (TheOOB @ Dec 14 2008, 09:28 PM) *
I find the degradation rules to be too harsh, especially since they don't even give a price for getting a black market patch.


unwired, page 94, second column...
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Jaid
post Dec 15 2008, 08:34 PM
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iirc, there is an optional rule somewhere in the SR4 english version that says you could limit building skills to not being able to make stuff with a higher rating than the skill.
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Malachi
post Dec 15 2008, 09:20 PM
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Coming from the perspective of someone who writes software for a living, those interval rates are realistic and a bit on the fast side. The fluff needs to be changed. A "good" Hacker may write one or two of their own utilities, but there's no way that they would have the time to write the whole suite. Besides, in the software industry there is a "don't reinvent the wheel" kind of philosophy. Common Use programs like Analyze, and Browse are probably as efficient as they can get since there are probably huge companies with programmers scrutinizing and optimizing every line of that (probably quite familiar) code. There's very little chance a "lone gunman" programmer can top what those armies of slave programmers can produce, so they probably wouldn't bother. It's most likely boring code to write anyway. A Hacker would more likely focus on the "Hacking" programs to write himself/herself, but even then they would purchase the ones they don't have the time/energy to write.
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Dragnar
post Dec 16 2008, 12:28 PM
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While the "realism" point is technically true, it doesn't change the fact that it's bad for the game. "Real" people don't heal serious gunshot wounds in less than a week either (not to difficult to do with SR healing tests), nor do they keep their world class skills without using them for months or years on end (no skill degradation in SR). Still, it's better for the game making those things easier on the PCs, so there's no need having software programming taking such a long time, mages get to write their spell formulae a lot faster.
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hobgoblin
post Dec 16 2008, 01:06 PM
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so drop the time frame to week or day vs whats there right now...
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MJBurrage
post Dec 16 2008, 03:28 PM
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I like the fluff that some professional hackers write their own code, I also like the realistic rules on coding time when it comes to high level software.

When it comes to house rules; I like a minimalist approach, changing as little as possible, since I have a number of casual players who would just as soon play by the book rather than deal with pages and pages of home rules.

So... We have used the following changes:
  • At chargen purchased programs with ratings less the character's software skill are assumed to be actually written by (or at least heavily rewritten by) said character.
  • Program degradation prevention is automatic for program ratings that are less than the character's software skill.
So if your willing to take aptitude and have software at rating 7, congrats you can have rating 6 programs without dealing with upkeep. Want programs equal to or greater than your skill, then take the time as per the rules, or buy them on the black market.

If you like the above but think it's too generous, than limit the number of such programs to your skill rating.
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hobgoblin
post Dec 16 2008, 03:51 PM
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meh, what i would do is just tell people that if they have cracked software, add the patch cost for each to their lifestyle (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)
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cryptoknight
post Dec 16 2008, 04:15 PM
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QUOTE (Dragnar @ Dec 16 2008, 06:28 AM) *
While the "realism" point is technically true, it doesn't change the fact that it's bad for the game.


This is true... it's also true that generally hardware degrades in rating before software does. Last year's Linux isn't that much worse than this years... but last year's hardware is probably a whole rating point behind.
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